Kansas Governor Says She Intends to Sign Emergency Extension
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Democratic Governor Laura Kelly says a measure approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature to rewrite emergency management laws is “reasonable” and she intends to sign it. Legislators sent her the bill this week. The measure would preserve the control that lawmakers gave county officials last year over mandating face masks and restricting businesses and public gatherings. The bill would allow legislative leaders to block the governor’s executive orders starting in April. It also would strip appointed local health officers of their power to impose restrictions, leaving such decisions up to elected county commissions.
Kansas Senate Considers Using Stimulus Money for Funding Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – The Kansas Senate wants to hold off on spending hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid for public education to see if it can be replaced with federal stimulus money. School leaders don’t like the idea. Some Democrats argue the Senate’s move could violate a court settlement that requires the state to increase school funding. The Republican-controlled Senate wants to hold back state money for schools in hopes that federal stimulus dollars can take its place. But school leaders say they need both the stimulus and the state aid to educate kids while fighting the coronavirus. Tiffany Anderson is superintendent of Topeka Public Schools. “It is my hope that the legislature continues to see this opportunity in the way that we do — which is an opportunity to make our schools even safer,” she said. Democrats have tried to block the move.
Kansas Highway Patrol: Basic Report Not Ready on GOP Leader’s Arrest
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas Highway Patrol official says basic information won’t be available for more than a week on its arrest of a top legislative leader. Senate Majority Leader and Wichita Republican Gene Suellentrop was arrested early Tuesday on suspicion of driving under the influence and attempting to flee from law enforcement while driving the wrong way on I-470 in Topeka. The highway patrol’s general counsel said Wednesday that the public portion of the arrest report would be available “on or before” March 26. For his part, Suellentrop issued a written statement saying he was stepping aside from most of his official duties until matters involving his arrest are resolved.
Lenexa Lab: COVID-19 Case Numbers Underreported
LENEXA, Kan. (KNS) – Two scientists at a lab in Lenexa have concluded that there were roughly twice as many COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as were reported to the CDC in September. Doctors Robert Stout and Steven Rigatti, of Clinical Reference Laboratory, looked at a sample of adult life insurance applicants who were evaluated for coronavirus antibodies in September. Of the 61,900 applicants, 6.6 percent had antibodies. Based on that sample, they estimated that nearly 16 million asymptomatic cases had gone undetected that month – about twice as many as were reported to the CDC. Stout says the take-home lesson is, “Lots of people are infected and never realize it. They act as the primary source of new infections in the population.” The study appeared in a publication of the American Medical Association.
Kansas COVID-19 Case Total Approaches 300,000
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/AP) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported Wednesday that there have been 298,904 cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 4,837 deaths, since the start of the pandemic. That’s an increase of 686 cases and two deaths since Monday. Johnson County continues to report the highest number of cases in Kansas, with 55,457. Another update will be released Friday.
UPDATE: Wichita Police ID Woman Killed by Pickup Truck
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Police in Wichita have identified a woman who was fatally hit when she ran into the roadway following a minor crash. Police say 54-year-old Michelle Truong, of Wichita, died in the Tuesday night incident. Officers who arrived at the scene say Truong had just been in a minor crash when she walked into the road to exchange insurance information with the other driver. That’s when she was hit by a pickup truck traveling east on Pawnee Street. Police say the driver of the truck stopped and is cooperating with the investigation.
Police: Woman in Wichita Street Hit, Killed by Pickup Truck
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Wichita police say a woman trying to flag down a vehicle following a minor car crash was instead hit and killed when she walked into the roadway. The incident happened Tuesday night in south Wichita. Officers say a pickup truck was eastbound on Pawnee Street when it hit the 54-year-old woman. Investigators believe the woman had just been in a minor crash when she walked out into the road. Police say she “attempted to make contact” with the truck driver but was instead, hit by the truck. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Her name was not immediately released.
Kansas Governor Calls Bill on Trans Athletes ‘Regressive’
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is calling a proposal to ban transgender athletes from girls’ and women’s school sports in Kansas “regressive” and predicting it would hurt the state’s ability to recruit businesses. Kelly stopped short of promising a veto Wednesday but pointed to a past executive order on LGBTQ rights as signaling her position. In January 2019, she prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state hiring or employment decisions. Conservative Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature argue that the proposal would preserve fair competition. The Senate is expected to take a final vote today (THUR) on a bill enacting such a ban.
Kansas Bill on Trans Athletes Advances Amid Charges of Misogyny
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas lawmakers on both sides are trading sometimes bitter accusations about a proposal to ban transgender students from girls’ and women’s school sports. This week, the GOP-controlled Senate approved a bill that would enact the ban, sending the measure to the Republican-controlled House. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is against the measure and called it “regressive.” The Senate’s top Democrat called the bill “hateful” and suggested her male colleagues were arguing that men are just superior. But supporters of the legislation argue that biological girls and women would lose scholarships and other life-changing opportunities without such a ban.
Topeka Area School District Named After Klan Leader Weighs Name Change
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Leaders of a Topeka area school district, named for an early 20th century Ku Klux Klan leader, have created an advisory task force to consider a potential name change. The task force will provide a report, but not a recommendation, to the Seaman School Board. The issue gained attention after student journalists at Seaman High School used newspaper clippings from the 1920s to confirm last fall that the district’s namesake, Fred Seaman, had been an “exalted cyclops,” or chief officer, in the Topeka Klan. A few dozen students, teachers and community supporters protested Monday, demanding change, before the board decided to create the task force.
Man Gets 26 Years in Drive-By Shooting that Killed Toddler
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) – A St. Joseph man has been sentenced to 26 years in prison in the death of a 2-year-old St. Joseph girl in a drive-by shooting. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that Marcain Kimbrough-Ballard became the first of three men charged in the August shooting of Raelynn Craig to be sentenced in the case. His sentencing Monday came after he pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in the girl’s death. Kimbrough-Ballard said at his plea hearing that he fired shots from the backseat of a car at another vehicle. But he said he didn’t know a child was inside the other car. Two adults with Raelynn were injured in the shooting.
New Trial Ordered for Man in Lawrence Rape Case
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) – A judge has granted a new trial for a man serving a 12-year sentence in a rape case, finding that his trial attorney failed to review hundreds of text messages from his accuser whom he met at at popular bar near the University of Kansas campus. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Douglas County Judge Sally Pokorny will soon order Albert Wilson transferred from a prison in Hutchinson back to Douglas County for a new bond hearing and the setting of a new trial.
UPDATE: KC Firefighters Discover Body After House Fire
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Police in Kansas City identified a man whose body was found by firefighters who were battling a house fire near the city’s east side. Police say the body is that of 37-year-old Edwyn Roland. His body was discovered around 9 pm Tuesday as fire crews worked to extinguish the blaze along Wabash Avenue. Police say an initial investigation has led detectives to believe Roland’s death was a homicide. Police have not released details about how he died and said they were seeking leads in developing a suspect in the case.
Firefighters Called to Burning Kansas City Home Find Body
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Firefighters in Kansas City made a grim discovery while battling a house fire near the city’s east side: the body of man inside. The discovery was made Tuesday night as fire crews worked to extinguish the blaze along Wabash Avenue. An initial investigation has led detectives to believe the man’s death is a homicide. The man’s name and details of how he died have not been released.
FBI: Man Said He Asked Officer If He Could Enter Capitol
MISSION, Kan. (AP) – Court records say a Kansas man arrested in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol told the FBI that an officer shrugged his shoulders when he asked whether he could join the throngs streaming into the building. Mark Roger Rebegila, of St. Mary’s, was taken into custody this week in Topeka on charges of knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. He’s among five people from Kansas and dozens nationwide who have been charged in the January 6 storming of the nation’s Capitol.
Staffing Shortages Prompt Temporary Missouri Prison Closures
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) – Two Missouri prison facilities are temporarily closing and relocating inmates because of statewide staffing shortages. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that 75 inmates are being transferred from the minimum security Kansas City Reentry Center to the Western Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in St. Joseph and the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron. The low-security Cremer Therapeutic Community Center in Fulton also is also temporarily closing, and all 43 offenders are being transferred to Fulton Diagnostic, Reception and Correctional Center. A prison spokeswoman says staff will also be moved to the larger facilities, where they can be used to help reduce overtime.
Federal Prosecutor Removed from Criminal Cases
UNDATED (KNS) – A federal prosecutor long criticized for unethical behavior has been removed from all her criminal cases. Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead has been removed from more than 20 criminal cases and is now prosecuting civil cases. The move by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas comes after Morehead’s methods have been questioned in several cases, most notably when she prosecuted Lamonte McIntyre for a crime he did not commit. Niko Quinn says Morehead threatened her into giving false testimony in that case. She says Morehead’s punishment should have been more severe. “I’m glad she cannot abuse her power, but feel like that’s just a little tap on the hand. She should have been fired,” Quinn said. Lamonte McIntyre spent 23 years in prison and was freed in 2017.
Black Woman Becomes Face of New Tourism Campaign in Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – A Black woman has become the face of Missouri’s tourism campaign, nearly four years after the NAACP warned travelers that their civil rights may not be respected if they visit the state. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Missouri Division of Tourism kicked off the campaign Monday. The woman, dubbed Mo, is featured in a promotional video hiking, watching a baseball game and riding a roller coaster. Pictures also show her posing as a Foodie Mo, Barbecue Mo, Lake Mo, History Mo and more. Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel says the group’s travel advisory will remain in effect until the state makes “meaningful progress in the systemic abuses affecting people of color.”
Full Missouri State Fair Scheduled this Year
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – Officials are planning for a full Missouri State Fair after the event was canceled last year because of the coronavirus. Missouri Agriculture Director Chris Chinn on Tuesday confirmed plans to bring the fair back this year. Officials canceled the event last year over concerns about safety during the pandemic. The Sedalia fairgrounds was instead used for a smaller youth livestock show in 2020. This year’s fair is scheduled for August 12 through August 22. Virus cases across the state have been dipping since COVID-19 peaked in November.
U.S. Treasury Says State Tax Cuts OK If Separated from Virus Aid
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – The U.S. Treasury Department says states can cut taxes without penalty from a federal pandemic relief law – so long as they use their own funds to offset those cuts. Republican governors, lawmakers and attorneys general in numerous states have expressed concern about the relief act signed by President Joe Biden. It prohibits states from using federal aid “to either directly or indirectly” offset a reduction in tax revenue. A treasury spokesperson tells The Associated Press the provision isn’t meant as a blanket prohibition on tax cuts; states just can’t use the relief funds to pay for them.
Wichita State Follows Tumult with Familiar Place in NCAA Men’s Tournament
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — For a team that’s been a NCAA Tournament regular much of the past decade, Wichita State is still a bit taken aback by its latest appearance. The Shockers seemed an unlikely participant following a tumultuous offseason featuring players exits and the resignation of longtime coach Gregg Marshall amid misconduct allegations. Isaac Brown took over on an interim basis but is now the Shockers’ permanent coach after guiding them to their first AAC regular season title. They enter the tournament as a No. 11 seed and will face Drake in a First Four play-in game.
KPR’s daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. KPR’s weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays.